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August 5th, 2016

I was assaulted in a bar fight in Pennsylvania. I am a New Jersey resident. Can I sue the bar for my injuries? Can I get compensated for my pain and suffering?

A: Individuals, including residents of New Jersey, can file bar fight/assault lawsuits in Pennsylvania against bars, restaurants and security companies. The key is being able to prove that the fight was reasonably foreseeable by the employees of the bar or proving that the bar’s employees negligently served alcohol to the perpetrator.

More: Nightclub or Bar Liability for Alcohol Related Fights in Pennsylvania and New Jersey (October 26, 2016) A discussion of club or bar liability for alcohol related fights and assaults in Pennsylvania and New Jersey. Other factors often play a role, such as failing to hire enough security personnel and overcrowding.

Bar Fights, Assaults & Injuries in Pennsylvania or New Jersey – Is the Bar Liable?

As a general rule, bars or restaurants in Pennsylvania or New Jersey can be held liable for 1. serving alcohol to a minor, or 2. serving alcohol to someone who is already visibly intoxicated.

Here are two examples which show liability in a bar fight case in Pennsylvania applying these two principles of law.

Serving Alcohol to a Minor

A New Jersey resident is visiting friends in Philadelphia. The group is hanging out at a local bar/restaurant. The bar is known as a hangout for underage drinkers who get in by paying bouncers. Bartenders and servers fail to card the minors. One of the minors, who is well known to other patrons of the bar, is served many alcoholic drinks. He starts an argument with the New Jersey patron. The argument turns into a fight. The drunk minor throws a glass bottle at the New Jersey resident’s head causing a serious head injury and deep facial lacerations. Is the bar liable?

In this instance, the bar could be held liable for not only serving a minor, but engaging in conduct which shows that its employees failed to prevent access by minors despite having known of the problem.

Negligence in Serving Alcohol

Shots of alcoholA New Jersey resident is at a bar in Pennsylvania and is injured in a bar fight. The perpetrator was heavily intoxicated after having been served multiple shots of alcohol by the bartender. In addition, the perpetrator had been kicked out of the bar earlier in the evening for being aggressive towards other patrons. The security staff simply failed to notice that the specific patron had gotten back into the bar. As a result, the patron picks a fight with the New Jersey resident, pulls out a knife, and stabs him.

In this case, the bar could be liable for the New Jersey resident’s injuries. There are two bases of liability. First, the bar could be liable for serving alcohol to the patron, so long as there is sufficient evidence that the patron was visibly drunk when he was served alcohol by the bartender. Second, the bar could be liable for failing to prevent access by the patron after security personnel had already removed him from the bar.

In both Pennsylvania and New Jersey, bars, restaurants and nightclubs can be held liable for serving alcohol in violation of alcohol service laws (also known as dram shop laws). Injured patrons can file alcohol related accident lawsuits to recover financial compensation for their injuries and pain and suffering.

The Importance of Police Reports in Bar Fight Lawsuit Cases in PA or NJ

When bar fights or bar assaults occur, it is critical to call the police. This can prevent further violence and also serves an important purpose from an evidentiary standpoint. When called to a bar due to a fight or assault, police officers will conduct an investigation and potentially arrest the perpetrator.

Also, police reports often provide important information and sometimes, critical evidence, like observations of the parties. Police reports in bar fight or assault cases often provide answers to the following questions:

  • Did the perpetrator appear visibly intoxicated?
  • How did the fight begin?
  • Are there any witnesses?
  • Did the victim appear injured?

Claims for Financial Compensation

Patrons who are injured in a bar fight or due to an assault at a bar or restaurant may be able to get financial compensation for medical bills, lost wages and pain and suffering. However, there must be sufficient evidence of the establishment’s negligence or liability. Lawsuits may be filed against multiple parties including the perpetrator, the bar/restaurant/nightclub, and/or the security company. The defendants may share liability and can be court-ordered to pay a financial sum to the plaintiff.

In the most serious injury cases, such as death cases or catastrophic injury cases, the plaintiff may be able to recover compensation for future pain and suffering and future expenses (medical bills and lost wages).

More: Lawsuits for Alcohol Related Injuries at New Jersey Shore Bars & Clubs (June 29, 2015) The Jersey shore is practically famous for its nightlife. Bars and clubs are hot spots for young people who can become aggressive when drinking alcohol. Can bars and clubs in New Jersey be held liable when someone gets injured?

DISCLAIMER: This website does not create any attorney-client relationship or provide legal advice. It is crucial to speak to a qualified lawyer prior to making any decision about your case. Read full disclaimer at the bottom of this page.


Page last updated: October 26, 2016